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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

TOCHIGI Mashiko

A small town with a great dedication to pottery

Mashiko is home to a mere 20,000 people, but its influence in the world of pottery belies its size. Known as Mashiko-yaki, Mashiko ware pottery got its start here in the 19th century and fuelled an explosion of local creativity that's taken the town all the way to the international stage.

Don't Miss

  • World-class pottery at the Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art
  • A free Mashiko walking tour

How to Get There

Coming from Tokyo, the train journey to Mashiko takes about two hours.

The following routes assume you're using the Shinkansen. Local trains will also get you there, but will take longer.

Coming by train:

Take the Shinkansen on the JR Utsunomiya Line from either Tokyo Station or Ueno station to Oyama Station in Tochigi

Change at Oyama for the Mito line going towards Mito

Get off at Shimodate Station and change to the Moka Tetsudo line going towards Motegi

The 10th stop is Mashiko Station

Coming by train and bus:

Take the Shinkansen on the JR Utsunomiya Line from either Tokyo Station or Ueno station to reach Utsunomiya Station in Tochigi

At Utsunomiya Station, take the Toya Bus from bus stand #14 towards Mashiko Station. Bus stops are located at Mashiko Station's west entrance.

The world of Mashiko pottery

Mashiko-yaki is distinguished by its rustic appearance. Fitting the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi simplicity, its popularity began in the 19th century for being attractive, yet practical. The pottery was mostly used as kitchenware at the time.

Today, the allure of Mashiko's pottery attracts buyers from around the globe and places in art collections, including that the Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art.

A reconstruction of Shoji Hamada's kiln

Not a mess: Ceramic Art Messe Mashiko / Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art

In modern Japanese, the German word "messe," meaning a "trade fair," has also come to be used for certain kinds of theme parks.

Ceramic Art Messe Mashiko houses a variety of earthenware related facilities, with the Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art as its centerpiece. Originally, the museum focused exclusively on Mashiko-yaki. Recently it has begun to display modern ceramic work from overseas as well.

The kiln of a master craftsman

Famed artisan Shoji Hamada established a studio in Mashiko in the early 1900s after discovering how wonderful its soil was for pottery. His house and workshop have been relocated to Ceramic Art Messe, as have his kilns that were built based on ancient designs.

Hamada's work was at the center of the Japanese art world's Mingei Movement. Mingei art fuses beauty with practicality by popularizing ordinary artisanal styles. With Hamada's presence, Mashiko evolved into a world capital of earthenware.

An series of climbing kilns originally built by Shoji Hamada

Celebrations of ceramics

Mashiko hosts two pottery fairs every year, one during Japan's Golden Week Holiday at the end of April and early May, and another in early November. The whole town hosts the event, but most shops and tents set up along Jonaizaka, the main street. Opportunities to purchase Mashiko-yaki abound.

Other sights in Mashiko

Besides its pottery culture, Mashiko is also home to some beautiful classical architecture. Saimoyoji Temple is on the slopes of Mt. Takadate. Its three-story pagoda was built in the 16th century and is one of the oldest pavilions in eastern Japan.

Seeing for yourself

Mashiko offers free tours of the city to groups of 10 to 40 on weekends and holidays outside the New Year period. Tours offer extensive sightseeing, including significant pottery spots, traditional buildings, and beautiful natural scenery.

On your way

While getting to Mashiko, many travelers come via Utsunomiya, Japan's self-proclaimed gyoza capital. Take some time while there to feast on the incredible variety of gyoza.